Here’s an excerpt from my latest Trib column. It’s about what numbers the Penguins should retire in the future. 

But if the Penguins go to the level below Lemieux, Jagr, Crosby and Malkin, there are lots of players at that level. Floodgates open. Next thing you know, the rafters are jam-packed and your on-ice product is wearing crazy numbers like a men’s league roller hockey team. 

That last sentence is in reference to the Montreal Canadiens, who have retired 15 numbers. 

The Canadiens may be hockey’s most storied franchise, but their current team looks absurd. Thirteen players wear numbers above 40. Those aren’t hockey numbers. (Full disclosure: Neither are 66, 68, 71 and 87.) 

To read the entire column, click HERE.

The Penguins should be super-selective about what numbers they retire. 

The Pirates will prove me correct. 

The Pirates have retired the numbers of some that are undeserving, marginally or otherwise. That includes a manager, Billy Meyer, with a career winning percentage of .410. Meyer guided the 1952 Pirates to a record of 42-112. Yet his No. 1 got pulled. Nobody seems to know why. 

The Pirates’ next move will be to retire Andrew McCutchen’s No. 22, and probably to erect a statue. 

McCutchen won NL MVP in 2013 but has middling career stats. McCutchen’s Pirates teams never won a playoff series. He won’t make the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

But the Pirates will recognize what McCutchen did achieve (and his popularity) in a fashion that goes too far, thus diminishing those honors. It will goose attendance and be a great experience on the day, to be sure. 

Marc-Andre Fleury did a lot more for the Penguins than McCutchen did for the Pirates. But I’m not sure the Penguins will retire Fleury’s No. 29. 

It depends on what you want the honor to mean. How exclusive.

The Pirates’ next statue should be Johnny Cueto dropping the ball in the 2013 wild-card game.

St. Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates

Photo: Justin K. Aller / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

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